What is the Clean Energy Jobs Act?

The Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) is comprehensive clean energy legislation (Senate Bill 2132/House Bill 3624) currently before the Illinois General Assembly. CEJA would boost energy efficiency standards, take advantage of the falling cost of wind and solar power, and protect the state from a federal regulatory ruling that could hit most Illinois consumers with up to $1.7 billion in higher power bills over the next decade. CEJA is the only energy legislation in Springfield that could secure savings for consumers while significantly ramping up renewable energy development in the state—and it does all this while holding Illinois utilities accountable to their customers.

Why does Illinois need CEJA?

Thanks to a series of groundbreaking clean energy laws, Illinois has gone from the highest electric bills in the country to some of the lowest. But electricity generating companies that use fossil fuels don’t like cleaner sources of energy—such as wind and solar—eating into their profits. In recent years, they have been working in Washington and Springfield to stop Illinois’ clean energy development. It is critical that we pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act to preserve what we have accomplished and improve upon it.

What would the Clean Energy Jobs Act do?

Key CEJA provisions would:

  • Implement electricity market reforms to reduce power bills.
  • Expand electric and gas efficiency programs.
  • Secure 100% carbon-free power by 2030, and 100% renewable energy by 2050.
  • Expand vehicle electrification so more people have access to cleaner, more affordable transportation.
  • Increase clean energy careers across Illinois.
  • Align utility regulation with state and consumer priorities, ensuring more transparency and accountability.

How would CEJA cut costs?

The bill contains multiple provisions to help lower our utility bills:

Capacity Market Reform. CEJA would put the Illinois Power Agency—a state agency—in charge of running a special electricity market for northern Illinois. 

    • Why is this important? We pay power plant operators for the commitment to have enough electricity available if demand spikes, like on a hot summer afternoon. This is called capacity. So you not only pay for the power you use now, but you also pay for capacity—the power you could use in the future. The price for capacity for ComEd customers is determined by auctions run by PJM Interconnection, the power grid operator for northern Illinois and all or part of 12 other states. The auction process has needlessly inflated Illinois electric bills in recent years, and now fossil fuel generators have pushed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to revamp capacity market rules to funnel more money to their dirty power plants. This move could raise Illinois power bills by up to $1.7 billion over the next decade. By tasking the IPA with running the capacity market for northern Illinois, the state would be in charge of its own clean energy policy, creating the opportunity to save consumers money while greatly expanding renewable energy investment in the state.

Energy efficiency. CEJA expands energy efficiency programs that have already saved consumers billions of dollars. 

    • Why is this important? The Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), groundbreaking energy legislation passed in 2016, required Illinois’ largest electric utilities to launch one of the nation’s most ambitious plans for customer electricity savings. Under FEJA, ComEd must develop and enhance customer efficiency programs to cut electricity waste by a record 21.5 percent, and Ameren by 16 percent, by 2030. For the first time, big utilities have an incentive to meet their efficiency goals, with bonuses for exceeding targets and penalties for falling short. The Natural Resources Defense Council conducted an analysis that estimated that FEJA’s energy efficiency provisions could lead to up to $7 billion in consumer savings. CEJA would improve upon the efficiency standards established by the FEJA by applying those standards to natural gas bills.

Guaranteed cost savings. CEJA contains a consumer protection adjustment.

    • Why is this important? CEJA’s “consumer protection adjustment” guarantees cost savings for ComEd customers over what they currently pay for electricity. The bill locks in a combined 5 percent savings on the following charges: energy, capacity, zero emissions credits (ZECs), and renewable energy credits (RECs). For 2018/2019, for example, ComEd customers would have saved a minimum of $250 million under this provision. The 5 percent savings is a minimum. Customer savings could be greater.

Reducing peak demand. CEJA would direct the Illinois Power Agency to develop a plan to cut electricity demand through programs that promote energy storage, efficiency, and special rate plans. 

    • Why is this important? High electricity demand increases electricity market prices and forces Illinois consumers to pay for expensive, new power plant construction. But programs that lower “peak demand”—when electricity demand is at its highest—can decrease our costs by billions of dollars.

Vehicle Electrification. CEJA would increase the development of EV ride-sharing, electrified public transportation and EV charging stations. It would also create a “beneficial electrification” program with policies designed to entice people into charging their electric vehicles during times when electricity demand is low. 

    • Why is this important? Policies that prevent a spike in demand have the potential to make the power grid more reliable and reduce electricity bills for everyone—even those who don’t own an EV. In fact, a CUB study found that Illinois could reap $2.6 billion in cumulative consumer savings over the next decade if the state implements smart EV policies.

How would CEJA hold utilities accountable?

CEJA’s accountability provisions would:

  • End formula rate hikes. Setting ComEd and Ameren rates by formula—a system that lacks adequate consumer protections—would be replaced with a system in which state regulators only approve utility programs and rates that are cost-effective.
  • Require utilities to pursue affordability as a goal, and they would only make more money if they do a better job.
  • Create an independent monitor to ensure ethics compliance by all public utilities.
  • Provide restitution for customers. In the wake of the ethics scandal, ComEd shareholders would have to repurpose ill-gained profits for programs for communities in need.
  • Prohibit the use of customer funds to cover expenses tied to federal ethics investigations.

Other important parts of CEJA would:

  • Attract more than $30 billion in private investment in clean energy and spark thousands of jobs.
  • Create “Clean Jobs Workforce Hubs,” a network of frontline organizations providing workforce training across Illinois for economically disadvantaged communities and former fossil fuel workers.
  • Expand the Illinois Solar for All program to ensure low- and moderate-income communities see the benefits of new community solar projects. It would also create incentives to expand access to rooftop solar.
  • Provide a fund for energy efficiency contractors to address health and safety issues—such as mold, asbestos and leaks—that prevent them from completing low-income home efficiency projects. Better efficiency lowers costs for everyone on the grid.

Who supports CEJA?

CUB is part of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, a group of more than 200 consumer advocates, green businesses and community leaders that all support CEJA.

For more information: Keep track of Illinois policy developments at CitizensUtilityBoard.org, where you can sign up to receive action alerts about utility-related pocketbook issues.